Monday, February 07, 2011

Stand Up For Standing Up?

Terracing.

Totally incompatible with modern football?

Or an integral part of our experience as supporters that a whole generation of fans is being denied?

I'm delighted to welcome Aidan from SafeStandingScotland.co.uk to stand up for standing up.

I'll admit to a certain ambivalence. I've stood at many grounds before but I started going to games as seated family enclosures became the norm so I've grown up at the tail-end of standing as we moved towards all seated stadia.

As much as I enjoy standing at grounds where it is an option I don't have a real emotional attachment to old style terracing.

I would really appreciate your thoughts on this one, genuinely interested to know what people think.

Here's Aidan:

Safe Standing Scotland is a campaign which aims to pressure the SPL into reintroducing standing areas in the form of 'Safe Standing' terracing which is used most famously in Germany. We believe that fans should have the choice whether to sit or stand. The SPL should cater for all fans preferred choice.

The genius of this new modern terracing is that it can easily be transformed from a standing area to a seated area when the club needs a seated area, for example if the stadium is hosting a concert.

This is done through several methods including:

1. Removable seats and safety barriers - Seats and barriers are simply bolted into brackets to allow either standing or a seated area.

2. Fold away seats - Like before barriers are removed but seats are unfolded from below the floor.

3. Rail seats - A safety barrier on every row which has a seat locked into it's upright postion and you are given an allocated seat to stand infront of. For events where seating is needed they simply unlock the seat into its postion. [More on these options]

The campaign notes that not all clubs can afford to redevelop stadia or indeed they may not have sufficient demand to justify redevelopment. We say to these clubs to set aside a specific area of their ground strictly for fans who wish to stand. By having them stand in front of allocated seats in a properly stewarded area it would ensure their would be no over selling of the area or crushes.

This can be done very easily by SPL member clubs or indeed any all-seated club in any division and would increase the match day satisfaction of fans who wish to be able to stand.

The campaign started after SPL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster stated that he was open-minded over the issue. A Facebook group was set up to see if anyone would be interested in forming some sort of group. At the moment we are just shy of 3000 members and have started our own independent website.

Neil Doncaster approached us to discuss the issue. He very much agreed that clubs should be looking for a more common sense approach to standing instead of over zealous stewarding which can be seen at Celtic Park on a weekly basis in both the home and away ends.

Although the issue is not set in Scots Law (unlike standing in England and Wales) we are asking fans to contact their MSP through our website. This is because we feel that it adds weight to the campaign. So far a handful of MSPs have pledged support and journalist Graham Spiers has stated that the more he thinks about it the more he likes the idea. We ask all fans to contact us through our website if they receive replies, positive or negative, as it's important we see what has been said.

By allowing standing areas it will act as the catalyst in the solution of many areas which have proved to be problematic. Atmospheres at SPL matches are, quite frankly, dire and by having an area for fans who wish to stand it will allow supporters to congregate and generate a better atmosphere.

The idea that there would be no difference from seating to standing is idiotic. Whether you are at a religious service or a heavy metal rock concert you stand to sing. It is not natural to sing when sitting. Standing areas and the atmosphere which would entail will entice young people to attend matches who have been turned off going to games due to a number of factors.

Why would any young person who has the choice to attend a gig choose a plastic bucket seat over standing? We need to encourage the next generation into the game and creating designated and safe standing areas would do this.

Terracing is not a thing of the past. It is our future and we must fight to make sure those in charge of our game do what the fans want. As Neil Doncaster said “These things are generally driven by supporter demand”. We need to show that there is supporter demand and we have an online petition which can be found at SafeStandingScotland.co.uk.

Forward to terracing!
Back to terracing!